On The Money

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2008

In 2008, R.W. Baird managing director and senior investment consultant Lisa Keverian-Press, who splits her time between Sarasota and her office in Baird’s Lake Forest, Ill., was named to Barron’s list of “Top 100 Women in Finance” for the third consecutive year.

What was it like being named to the Barron’s list?

It was great. Firms nominate women they feel are at the top of their profession, and the ranking is based on tenure, education, lack of regulatory missteps, volume of business, size of accounts, etc. My goal is that one day there will be just one list [combining women and men]. It’s one of my personal passions to make the financial services industry better for women. We have a long way to go, and it’s funny, because we’ve made many more inroads in other areas.

How does the Midwest compare to Florida in terms of its financial outlook?

Chicago’s local business is more diverse—Sarasota is real estate and tourism, and there are more booms and busts here. The Chicago market never spiked the way it did here, and it didn’t go down as much, either.

Post bailout, what do you think government needs to do?

The government needs to do a better job communicating to the average person what’s going on. I still believe in capitalism, and in business cycles like this one, the weak don’t survive and the strong do. I think it was a mistake to let Lehman Brothers fail. The government did the best it could, but it took a little too much time for [legislators] to understand the gravity of the situation. And it’s misleading if people think that the government will fix the problem and lower taxes—where is the money going to come from? The next president is going to be faced with that reality at the beginning of his term.

Going forward to 2009, what advice would you offer people?

I tell my clients to understand their objectives. A lot of people don’t. It’s easy to say you’ll be aggressive, but many haven’t experienced this kind of bear market before, so it’s important to know your objectives and your risk tolerance. Our recovery is not going to be V-shaped. It’ll be U-shaped, instead; there’s going to be a bottoming process. We will get better, but we need to revert to our previous behavior again. And we need to work together; everyone is suffering.

Would you still advise young people to get into your profession?

Absolutely. At Baird, we have a formal mentoring program and an internship program. The financial industry has so many layers, and it’s growing. And there should be a team approach to becoming an adviser. I compare it to having an attending physician, a senior resident and an intern on staff. And a lot of women don’t understand that this industry can be incredibly flexible. I had my daughter at age 38 and was able to dictate my own schedule for the next four years. Plus, I get to meet some of the nicest people and form great relationships with my clients.

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